Book Review: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

jinnWith Jinn and Juice, Nicole Peeler launches a new urban fantasy series — and that’s very good news for fans of her hilarious and awesome Jane True series and for fans of paranormal fictional shenanigans in general.

In Jinn and Juice, we meet Leila — burlesque belly dancer, Pittsburgh resident… and 1,000-year-old jinni (genie). Leila was a young woman cursed by her family’s jinni, the evil Kouros, to live as a jinni for one thousand years. As a jinni, Leila has super magical powers, but she’s also subject to the will and whims of whoever happens to be her Master. Jinni can be either Bound or unBound — meaning that they can be Called and then basically owned by whatever Magi happens to find them. Once Bound to a Magi, jinni must be obedient and carry out their Magi’s orders. On the plus side, though, Bound jinni have access to all sorts of tremendous powers that they can’t access unBound, so there’s that.

For Leila, this jinni business basically sucks. She does not want to be a jinni. She’d love to be human again, and can be — so long as she is unBound when her 1,000 year curse ends. If she’s Bound at that time, then she’ll be cursed for another 1,000 years. Like I said, it sucks.

Leila lives in Pittsburgh, whose steel-soaked grounds provide a weird kind of magical current that Leila can plug into, although most supernaturals find Pittsburgh magic tainted and poisonous. Surrounding Leila are a Peeler-esque cast of unusual characters, including a psychic drag queen, an oracle, a will-o-the-wisp, and a pair of icky-creepy spider wraiths. This odd community works together in a paranormal burlesque club and forms a family of sorts — and they all band together to protect Leila when she is Called and Bound by a new Magi, the kinda-hot Ozan (known as Oz).

Together, Leila and Oz and company set out to locate a missing girl and figure out what the heck is causing all sorts of magical havoc in Pittsburgh. And meanwhile, Leila finds herself drawn to Oz more and more… but is that just the power of the Master-Jinni relationship, or is there actually a there there?

Okay, explanations aside, let me tell you about Jinn and Juice. First of all, it’s fun. If you’ve never read anything by Nicole Peeler, the main thing to know is that she’s hilarious. Her writing rocks, even when the storyline turns dangerous or tragic. Serious and often deadly things do happen, but the author gives her characters amazing lines that are eminently quote-worthy:

“While French fries on salads is pretty magical, that’s not what makes Pittsburgh special,” I said…

flourish-31609_1280Nowadays magic was something for Dungeons and Dragons. In books, vampires sparkled and really wanted to marry teenagers who tripped a lot. Hollywood only dreamed about jinn. And none of these creatures or powers really existed in the same universe as chaos theory, or particle accelerators, or atomic bombs… except they did.

flourish-31609_1280“Hit it with the bench!” shouted Ozan, and I had to obey. I reached for what had been one of the picnic table’s benches, hefting it with ease in one of my hamlike hands. Raising it above my head, I brought it down with all my strength on the bugbear’s head.
“Hulk smash!” I shouted, just for the fun of it.

flourish-31609_1280 “Are we ready?” Charlie asked, eyeballing our ragtag bunch with a worried expression. We didn’t exactly look professional… in fact, we looked exactly as you’d imagine a gothic burlesque would look, if it decided to do a SWAT team number.

Second thing to know: Love and sex matter in Peeler’s books. Attraction is hot. Sparks fly. Knees go weak with desire. The sexy factor in Jinn and Juice is top notch. Which is not to say that it’s all easy: One really interesting aspect of this story is how the power dynamics affect the sexual and emotional relationships. Leila’s master can order her to have sex with him if he chooses (although, hilariously, jinni seem to have all sorts of work-arounds when dealing with not-terribly-precise commands for acts that don’t suit them); he could even order her to enjoy it, I suppose. The fact that Leila’s new master is too decent to indulge is noteworthy — and later, even when the attraction is mutual and Leila is very into it, he declines — because how can either of them be sure that it’s real and not just a result of the Magi-Jinni bond?

Fangirl aside: This reminded me of the sire bond issues during the last season of The Vampire Diaries. I’m a big geeky nerd, I know.

The plot of Jinn and Juice is fueled by action, but it’s the people that really make it a treat. Leila herself is pretty awesome (especially how she’s the biggest, baddest thing in the room, despite her seemingly petite human frame), and I love her gang of eccentric, magical friends. Oz is just the right combination of smart, sexy, and sensitive, and the growing emotions and desire between Leila and Oz give off sparks.

Fans of the Jane True series will absolutely want to give Jinn and Juice a whirl — and really, this is a great choice for any one who enjoys urban fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun, magic, snark, along with dangerous, malevolent, volatile bad guys, make for quite an enjoyable and fast-paced adventure. Here’s hoping that the next installment in the series comes along soon!

Want. More. Now.


The details:

Title: Jinn and Juice
Author: Nicole Peeler
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased

Book Review: Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler

Book Review: Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler

Tempest Reborn (Jane True, #6)Question: How do you write a review for the sixth and final book in a series without giving away spoilers for the earlier books?

Answer: Very, very carefully.

Tempest Reborn is the eagerly anticipated final entry in Nicole Peeler’s hip, funny urban fantasy series about small-town girl Jane True, who is definitely a lot more than she appears to be. When we first meet Jane in book one, Tempest Rising, she’s an introverted 20-something living in Rockabill, Maine, where she’s both ostracized and demonized for causing her high school sweetheart’s death — at least, that’s how the most vocal townies see it. Jane worries about her not-so-healthy father and works in the charmingly named Read It and Weep bookstore, has terribly low self-esteem, and escapes to the ocean for a swim whenever she needs a pick-me-up. Jane’s world is completely rocked, and forever altered, when she stumbles upon a murder and gets caught up in the investigation. The biggest revelation? Jane’s mother was a selkie, and Jane herself is considered a halfling — half human, half supernatural, with magical powers and gifts that she could never have imagined.

Over the course of the six books in the series, Jane learns more about the hidden supernatural world, develops her powers, finds deep and meaningful friendships and connections , and at the same time, becomes embroiled in supernatural scheming and politics, has her life endangered countless times — and  finds the love of her life.

Meanwhile, throughout, we get to know Jane, and boy, is she a delight. Jane is a down-to-earth kind of girl, happiest in leggings and a t-shirt, fond of sweets and snacks, and not too shy about her libido. You could say that Jane’s appetite for delicious food is matched (or exceeded) only by her appetite for hot, no-holds-barred sex. (Not that she’s at all slutty, mind you; but when the right guy comes along, wowza, does she have fun.)

Nicole Peeler’s writing is uproariously funny. Like, I laugh out loud when I read these books, and I am not easily prone to fits of LOLing when I read. Jane is hilarious, silly, loyal, blunt, and really rather adorable.  Some delicious little Jane-isms from earlier books:

I wasn’t running now so much as stumbling quickly, panting like a geriatric lion. (Tracking the Tempest)

That hair-pulling thing he did really peeled my bananas. (Eye of the Tempest)

They were paragons of conservative propriety in public, but in private they swung like pinatas. (Tempest’s Legacy)

Some heroes are born. Some are made. And some are bribed with promises of food and sex. (Tempest’s Fury)

In Tempest Reborn, all of Jane’s struggles and triumphs reach a climax, with danger and disaster lurking around every corner. Book #5, Tempest’s Fury, ended in one of the cruelest cliffhangers I’ve ever read — particularly in a series that generally leavens the deadly peril with big doses of hilarity. That ending! I think Jane True fans everywhere let out a collective shriek on the last page… and then we waited… and waited… for Tempest Reborn.

Tempest Reborn picks up immediately after that shocker of an ending, and proceeds to slam readers up and down and off the walls a few times in the first few chapters alone. This is a decidedly much less funny book, simply because Jane is dealing with calamitous events, and there’s precious little to smile about, much less indulge in out-and-out laughs. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, Jane is at the center of the ultimate power struggle, and her life and the lives of everyone she loves hang in the balance. And… I really can’t say more about the plot. Read the books, dammit!

Nicole Peeler has a remarkable gift for language, creating a texture and idiom in her narration and dialogue that’s easily identifiable as belonging to Jane’s world. And what a rich world it is! The author’s talents extend to an incredibly creative knack for world-building. The rules and intricacies of this supernatural society are superbly defined, so that we the readers absolutely know by the sixth book what it all means and where our beloved characters fit in.

Plus, it’s all just great fun. Memorable characters include Iris the succubus, Daoud the djinn (who seems to be able to pull any object he needs out of his magical pants), Caleb the satyr (who is pants-challenged), Nell the gnome, Anyan the incredibly hot barghest, and on and on. There’s royalty, there are rebels, and — check out the cover — there are even dragons.

As a fan of the series, I was completely satisfied by the dramatic conclusion to the story — and very appreciative of the epilogue (which, again, I won’t say anything about, because — spoilers!). I’m sad to see it all come to an end, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of reading this uproariously funny, sweetly romantic, and scorchingly sexy series. I can only hope that Nicole Peeler will choose to set more stories in this universe that she’s created — but whatever she writes next, I’m in.


My Jane True collection. Read ’em all!

Wishlist Wednesday

And now, for this week’s Wishlist Wednesday…

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it’s on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My Wishlist Wednesday book is:

Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler
(to be published May 2013)

Tempest Reborn is the sixth and final book in Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series… and if you’ve never encountered Jane True, you’re missing out on some sassy, sexy, supernatural fun. Because I’m a big believer in not spoiling anything if I can help it, rather than quote the blurb for Tempest Reborn, I’m quoting instead from the blurb about the first book in the series, Tempest Rising:

From the author’s website:

In the tiny village of Rockabill, Maine, Jane True—26-year-old bookstore clerk and secret night swimmer—has no idea that her absent mother’s legacy is entry into a world populated by the origins of human myths and legends.  It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: vampires are not quite what we think; dogs sometimes surprise us; and whatever you do, never—ever—rub the genie’s lamp.   For Jane, everything kicks off when she comes across a murder victim during her nightly clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean.  This grisly discovery leads to the revelation of why she has such freakish abilities in the water: her mother was a Selkie and Jane is only half human. With this knowledge, Jane soon finds herself mingling with supernatural creatures alternately terrifying, beautiful, and deadly—all adjectives that quite handily describe her new friend Ryu.  When Ryu is sent to Rockabill to investigate the murder, he and Jane fall hard for each other even as they plummet into a world of intrigue threatening to engulf both supernatural and human societies.  For someone is killing half-humans like Jane.   The question is, are the murders the work of one rogue individual or part of a greater plot to purge the world of Halflings?

I just love this series. Jane True is a bookworm (hurray!), who at the start of the series is somewhat of a town outcast and who has a past that she can’t quite make sense of. Over the course of the series, we see her come into her own as she learns about her magical heritage, develops her seriously strong powers, is welcomed into a society of supernatural beings that were there all along, and finds both love and purpose in her life.

But it’s not all action and adventure. The Jane True books are hysterically funny, while at the same time include elements touching, scary, and downright tragic. Bad things can and do happen to Jane and her friends. And yet, I find myself laughing out loud when I read these books. Nicole Peeler drops pop culture references galore, has a ready supply of snappy one-liners, and doesn’t skimp on the sexy times. Another reason to love Jane? This is a heroine who appreciates good food as much as she appreciates good sex — and believe me, both are very important to her! Jane is smart and funny, and it’s easy to root for her throughout these engaging, entertaining books.

The only negative about wishing for Tempest Reborn? Once I read it, I’ll be done with the series… and the Jane True books are just too much fun to come to an end.

Quick note to Wishlist Wednesday bloggers: Come on back to Bookshelf Fantasies for Flashback Friday! Join me in celebrating the older gems hidden away on our bookshelves. See the introductory post for more details, and come back this Friday to add your flashback favorites!